Under plans proposed by the city's council, Ariana Grande would be Manchester's first honorary citizen. And, you know, given all the work she's put into raising funds for the city in the wake of the May 22 terrorist attack, this makes a lot of sense. The 23-year-old didn't simply retreat to safety following the attacks, but returned to stage the One Love concert, which united artists like Justin Bieber, Katy Perry, Robbie Williams, Coldplay, Miley Cyrus, Black Eyed Peas, Little Mix, and Liam Gallagher, and raised over 10 million pounds (both from online donations made worldwide during the televised concert and ticket sales). Which is a lot, right?
According to the proposal, those based outside Greater Manchester could be granted honorary citizenship. The council leader Sir Richard Lee said:
He cited Grande as having "exemplified this response." And, of course, when you look at the facts and figures even beyond the concert itself, Lee is absolutely right. After all, Grande kept on fundraising, re-releasing "One Last Time" as a charity single, with "the majority of proceeds" going to the We Love Manchester Emergency Fund.
However, it's worth noting that Grande hasn't been named honorary citizen yet. We'll have to wait for plans to go before the council on July 12. But, at least to my mind, these aren't even the most convincing arguments as to why she deserves to be the city's first honorary citizen. While money is tremendously helpful and public awareness is desirable, I believe the singer has displayed something more valuable: strength of character.
It is one thing to tell people to defy terrorists by congregating at a mass concert just over a week after the deadliest attack in the UK since the July 7, 2005 London bombings. It is another to lead by example. Grande returned to the site of a traumatic incident and was the figurehead of the concert. She had to suspend the seven concerts that were meant to follow the Manchester date, something which her reps stated was necessary, so "we can further assess the situation and pay our proper respects to those lost." Prior to this statement, her reps had already clarified “Right now, the focus is on the victims and grieving for them... We’re not focused on the tour.”
broken.— Ariana Grande (@ArianaGrande) May 23, 2017
from the bottom of my heart, i am so so sorry. i don't have words.
Besides all of this, as Grande's own tweets showed, she was genuinely affected by the tragedy. This felt like a personal, authentic response, not a carefully crafted PR statement — something her efforts to support the city in the wake of the attack further cemented.
So, here's hoping the proposal passes. It's hard to think of any other high profile celebrity from recent years who has been quite so committed to the city and passionate about helping it in such a dark time.